141. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson 1


  • Recognition of the Argentine Government


That you approve the enclosed telegram which would authorize our Chargé in Buenos Aires to deliver a note to the Argentine Government at noon on July 14, which would constitute an act of recognition.2
That you also approve the text of a proposed press release, herewith enclosed.3


The Argentine military overthrew the Illia Government on June 28. Subsequently, General Juan Carlos Onganía, former Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine Army, was sworn in as President.

We have been consulting with the Latin Americans since the overthrow of the Illia Government under Resolution XXVI which was approved at the Rio Conference in November 1965. We also indicated informally to the Argentine authorities that public statements on the points contained in Resolution XXVI, plus a commitment on peaceful settlement of disputes, would facilitate recognition by the United States. We added the point on peaceful settlement after the Chileans expressed concern to us over Argentine statements which the Chileans interpreted as forecasting trouble between Argentina and Chile on their boundary disputes.

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In the note from the Argentines requesting recognition they explicitly stated their intention to respect their international obligations. A speech by General Ongania on July 94 has statements in it which apparently were intended to respond to our concern about respect for human rights (Paragraph 2b of Resolution XXVI) and about pacific settlement of disputes. Chile had recognized the Ongania Government on July 8.

The significant omission is any statement on elections. Argentine authorities have indicated to the Brazilians and us that it would be very difficult at this time to make any definite statement on return to constitutional democracy. However, Martinez Paz, the new Minister of the Interior, told the press on July 9 that the Government would stay in power as long as necessary to create a climate conducive to the exercise of representative democracy.

Mr. Gordon discussed the recognition problem on July 8 with Senators Fulbright and Morse. The former felt we should be in no hurry to recognize; the latter made no comment but his public statement on the Military Assistance Program Bill suggests that he will again charge the Administration with “walking out on democracy” if we do recognize. Mr. Sayre has discussed it with Senator Hickenlooper and Congressman Selden. He also briefed Boyd Crawford, Chief of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Staff, who stated he would inform Dr. Morgan. All three felt that we had no other choice but to recognize the new government. With the exception of Senator Morse all of them expressed reservations on resumption of economic and military assistance. Senator Hickenlooper went further and questioned whether we should carry out any commitments we have made on economic and military assistance to Argentina until Argentina fulfills its contractual obligations; for example, the oil problem.

Eight Latin American countries have already recognized the Argentine Government (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay). With the exception of Venezuela and, just possibly, Colombia, the other Latin American countries are awaiting our decision and will probably recognize at about the same time. Japan, Spain and all of the NATO countries have recognized.

We have traditionally tried to maintain diplomatic relations with all of the members of the OAS. We also give considerable weight to the views of the Latins. In addition, the United States has important interests in Argentina and Argentina is one of the major countries in the OAS system. We cannot exercise any significant influence in Argentina unless we maintain relations with the authorities.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 16 ARG. Confidential. Drafted by Sayre and cleared by Krieg. Original forwarded as an attachment to a memorandum from Rostow to the President, July 13. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Argentina, Vol. II, 9/64–2/67)
  2. Attached but not printed. The instructions were eventually sent as telegram 2885 to Buenos Aires, July 14. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 16 ARG)
  3. Attached but not printed. For text of the press release, see Department of State Bulletin, August 1, 1966, p. 184. The President approved both recommendations. A note attached to this memorandum explains, however, that recognition had to be rescheduled due to an apparent delay in the bureaucratic process. The Department subsequently authorized delivery of the official note of recognition for July 15 at noon. (Telegram 7529 to Buenos Aires, July 14; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 16 ARG)
  4. Attached but not printed. The Embassy also forwarded excerpts of the speech in telegram 143 from Buenos Aires, July 11. (Ibid., POL 15 ARG)